Virtual Pink Dolphin-assisted Therapy for Children with Autism

Period: September 2013 - August 2016
Funding Support:  Temasek Trust Funded Singapore Millennium Foundation
Status: Ongoing
Website: Virtual Pink Dolphin


Recently, more media attention has been drawn on the increase of autism with the international prevalence rate 0.6% applied across cultures. Research on autism and development of therapy for autism are of worldwide interest today. Several studies show dolphin-assisted-therapy (DAT) has positive effect to children-with-autism in terms of anxiety/stress relief, communication/learning improvement, and cognitive-performance/self-confidence increase. The intelligence and spontaneous play behavior of dolphins could be the distinguishing features helping enhance the therapeutic value of DAT. We propose to study virtual-pink-dolphins-assisted-therapy (VPDAT) for children-with-autism. We are interested in the innovative design/development of a virtual dolphinarium to assist children-with-autism in their learning/communication. Instead of emulating swimming with dolphins, we focus on the virtual dolphin interaction between virtual dolphins and children-with-autism. Emphasis will be placed on the pedagogical investigation of autism special education. In particular, children-with-autism will have chance to play as dolphin trainers through gesture-based interaction to help them establish joint attention and to learn communication. In this research, we will work closely with the AWWA Special School in Singapore and in a later stage with another special school in Singapore-Suzhou Industrial Park. Eventually, we hope the VPDAT will offer each and every child-with-autism in the world a low cost, safe, convenient and fun way to improve their learning/communication.


SGD$ 728,350

IMI's contribution

Prof. Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, is the Co-Principal Investigator of project.

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